Janet Browne’s interests range widely over the history of the life sciences and natural history. After a first degree in zoology she studied for a PhD in the history of science at Imperial College London, published as The Secular Ark: Studies in the History of Biogeography (1983). Ever since then she has specialised in reassessing Charles Darwin’s work, first as associate editor of the early volumes of The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, and more recently as author of a major biographical study that integrated Darwin’s science with his life and times. While it was framed as a biographical study, the intention was to explore the ways in which scientific knowledge was created, distributed and accepted, moving from private to public, as reflected in the two-volume structure of the work. The biography was received generously both in the UK and USA, and awarded several prizes, including the James Tait Black award for non-fiction in 2004, the WH.Heinemann Prize from the Royal Literary Society, and the Pfizer Prize from the History of Science Society.
A new member of the department, Janet was previously based for many years at the Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at University College London where she taught in the MA, MSc and undergraduate programmes in the history of science, biology, and medicine. She has been editor of the British Journal for the History of Science and president of the British Society for the History of Science. New courses to be developed in the next few years focus on natural history specimens, including Bringing Nature Indoors: Museums, Laboratories and the Field, and her role in the Study of Religion has directed doctoral dissertations. She is currently working on a visual and cultural history of the gorilla.
Professor Browne is currently teaching.
History of Science
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